Leaving the Country for a Bit

There is a lot to see in the UK – you can go south to the cliffs of Dover, west to Wales, north to the Lake District, and even further north to Scotland. You can hop a ferry or plane over to Northern Ireland and explore Giants Causeway. It’s gorgeous here.

However, at some point you’ll decide you want to take a trip out of the country. When you do that, remember to take not just your passport but also your biometric residency permit — you’ll need both to get back in.

The other consideration you should take is securing health insurance. The NHS covers you in the UK, and you can also apply for a European Health Insurance Card, which allows you to access the public health care in European Economic Area nations.* I’d recommend applying for the card once you have your NHS number, and keep it with your passport and residency permit.

As it says right on that page, however, this is not the same as travel insurance; it won’t cover evacuating you back to the UK, for example. For that — and for travel anywhere outside the EEA — you’ll need to get travel insurance.

If you’ve been living the UK for at least six months this isn’t an issue. But if you plan to travel to the US within the first six months of living in the UK, your options will be limited. I found myself traveling back to Seattle just about three months after we moved to the UK, and had to do a bit of scrambling to find one that would work.

Bupa is the big private insurance provider here, but they’ll only allow you to purchase travel insurance if you’ve been living in the UK for six months. The Post Office is another option, but has a similar rule — in their case, you can’t have spent more than six months abroad in the year leading up to the purchase of the insurance. They also require that you be registered with a GP here.

Because neither of those options were available to me, I ended up doing a lot of Googling until I found options. Now, I cannot stress enough that I have no idea as to the QUALITY of these providers; I am not endorsing them at all, but instead wanted to share what I found in my research. If you need to travel for more than two weeks, one option is Diplomat American. Because my trip is shorter, this didn’t work for me, so I picked an option I found on Visitors Coverage.

If you think you’ll be doing a lot of traveling, you can purchase annual insurance that will probably work out to be cheaper than purchasing individual policies every time. Additionally, if you have private insurance through your or your partner’s employer, see if it includes travel insurance. If it does, then you’re all set.

Note: As I write this, the UK is negotiating its exit from the EU, so things may look different with respect to travel in Europe in 2019 or 2010, so keep that in mind.

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